I had not picked up on it until just now, but the theme of being a blessing out of the blessings God has blessed us with (a new tongue twister!) has been pretty prominent; particularly in the morning prayers posted on Facebook and Twitter this week.
The other theme that has come though has been the theme of light. This one has not been as public, but has appeared quite prominently in my personal prayer times. Interestingly, while light appears as a theme in the Morning and Evening Office (for obvious reasons), it is the liturgy of the Midday prayer-stop that got my attention.
Traditionally, the theme of Terce – the third hour prayer stop prayed around 9am – is Pentecost as per Acts 2:15; and the theme of None – ninth hour prayer prayed about 3pm – is remembering Christ’s death as per Luke 23:44. The theme of the Midday prayer-stop (known as the office of Sext, or prayer at the sixth hour or midday) focuses on the Cross and the Passion of Jesus. According to scripture, midday would have been about the time Jesus was nailed to the cross (see Mt 27:45). One of the prayers in the liturgy I have been using this week says this:
“In the strength of your cross, O Christ,
you have filled the world with light:
we cry to you with joy and thanks!”
Yesterday during Midday prayer, I found myself reflecting for a long time on the Cross shedding its light on the world. In my mind I saw the image of the Cross and coming down from it was a stream of light in the shape of an upside down cone; like a downlight type desklamp. It illuminated everything beneath it like a desklamp does. And in this image I saw the world – its problems, its issues and its worries along with its beauty, its blessings and its goodness.
As I looked at this picture I realised that as a Christian, I am to look at everything illuminated by the light that comes from the Cross. Nothing is to be understood unless we have the light from the Cross falling over it. Only then do we see it truly as it should be seen.
People around me? They must be looked at under the light of the Cross. Are the living without Jesus? The light of the Cross offers them a hope. Are they struggling? The light of the Cross shows them that there is a way. Are they sick or in pain? The light of the Cross offers them healing.
Issues around me? They must be looked at under the light of the Cross. How do I act on homelessness and poverty? The Cross shows me that I have been blessed to be a blessing. How do I treat the refugee? The Cross shows me that when I do unto others I do unto Him. Do I put myself out there to support and care for those affected by war? The Cross tells me that greater love has no one than this…
On that Cross we see love inexplicably giving of itself unselfishly and with no strings attached. We see a grace-filled act that we can never earn or repay being offered to us. And we see it freely given so that it can be both freely received and freely given away again. And give it away again we should since under the light of the Cross, the science and the math make it impossible to lose what is given to us when we give it away. And so we give it away, not once, but a math and science defying “over and over and over again”.
Everything, if we are careful to allow whatever it is we are looking at to be lit up by the Cross of Calvary, will look different under the light of the Cross. And we will only see everything in its true way when it is considered in the light of the Cross.
I wonder – if you were to look at something today illuminated by the Cross of Jesus, how might it look different? And what might seeing that thing in its true light mean in regards to how you might engage with it?
Live Simply & Simply Live.
~ aka The Modern Monk.